In March this year, when social reformer, educationist and crusader for inter-religious harmony, Sri M (Mumtaz Ali) brought his Walk of Hope to Chandigarh, he launched an initiative in the city he is widely known for – My Tree – to increase the green cover and improve the environmental conditions on earth, under which lakhs of trees and over 1.5 crore plants have been planted so far. As Sri M made another stop on Christmas in the city to deliver a talk on Meditation and the Spiritual Path at Bhavan Vidyalaya School, Sector 27, he quickly shared how trees are an integral part of life and existence.
”My Tree comes from the Sanskrit word, Maitri which means friendship. We began planting saplings from Kerala because trees are important for the environment. The fewer they are, the more problems we will have, so we have to look after them and not kill them, for they are living beings,” says Sri M. It’s a concept that encourages a healthy alliance between people/communities and nature. The initiative also falls under Sri’s Manav Ekta Mission of promoting sustainable living by encouraging the planting of trees, inspiring harmony with nature to energise eco-systems and reducing carbon footprints.
“Planting a sapling, bringing it up like a child and letting it live is perhaps one of the most virtuous things one can do. I have no copyright on this mission, anyone can undertake it,” states Sri. He adds how they make sure the process doesn’t stop at planting alone. “If you let go, there is no point in the initiative. So, we make sure the one who plants also brings up the tree, else how will we see change? Changing mindsets is not easy,” he says. Christmas, he adds, is about decorating the Christmas tree too and celebrating it, so why not plant more trees?
His 15-month long padayatra for peace, harmony and tolerance from Kanyakumari to Kashmir that he began in 2015, which covered 7,500 km and 11 states, also saw My Tree grow with it. The padayatra ended on April 29, 2016. At Bhavan Vidyalaya, he delivered a talk on meditation and the spiritual path and “how essential it is to life”: “Meditation keeps the mind calm and tranquil, makes a person sit and reflect, and control anger and expression.” His film, “Walk of Hope” that won accolades at the International Summit for Peace and Harmony was screened, too. He also honored a team led by Dr Ramji Jaimal which was instrumental in the plantation of 1.5 crore floral saplings in Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP.